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New Automated Tunnel Examination System (NATES)


Amey OW Limited

New Automated Tunnel Examination System (NATES)
The approach to inspecting and assessing railway tunnel condition in the UK has not materially changed in decades. Whilst the collection of condition data is
now largely completed in the field and immediately uploaded to central databases, the examination itself remains a physical process, undertaken by qualified
engineers in all weathers, requiring considerable periods of track access, and working at height, and exposure to the often hazardous rail infrastructure
This methodology is inefficient, unrewarding, and exposes people to increasingly unacceptable and unnecessary hazards. In particular it results in scarce
specialist resources spending the majority of their time accessing and examining infrastructure that presents no defects – an unavoidable result of having to
physically examine all tunnel elements in order to identify those that are defective. Our objective is to automate the majority of this activity such that our
specialist engineers can focus their unique skills on addressing those parts of the infrastructure which are known to be defective.
Amey, working with Collins Aerospace and The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has designed NATES – a development programme designed to
harness a unique set of capabilities and experiences to transform the assessment of UK railway tunnels.
ATICA aims to deliver an automated system to examine railway tunnels, process the data captured, and present the findings in line with existing report
This serves to: remove many people from hazardous environments; accelerate the examination and reporting process; improve the consistency,
repeatability, and accuracy of examinations; and provide greater potential for data analysis to optimise asset management strategies and improve predictive
maintenance approaches.
Amey has examined and assessed Network Rail structures throughout CP4 and CP5 and has deep knowledge of this sector. Collins Aerospace brings
unique surface recognition and massive data processing capability from the secure military sector. The MTC brings unique sub-surface assessment
technologies developed with Amey specifically to address this challenge.
Building on previous work already done at risk by Amey and consortium member The Manufacturing Technology Centre, the project will take an already Lab
based proven technology for subsurface inspection and continue its testing and development into a deployable solution for linear inspections. Adding to this
consortium member Collins aerospace will support the delivery of a AI based surface inspection element, utilising experience from the military domain and
proven technologies in other surface based inspections. Amey and Collins aerospace are already working on multiple inspection and survey projects for
other infrastructure condition monitoring projects and are confident previous solutions can be adapted for the extreme environments seen in rail tunnels.
Development work will be mainly based on the adaptation of the technology for the demanding environment to ensure the linear environments defects are
captured in an efficient and effective manner